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Dataset Details

The National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being I (NSCAW I), General Release, Waves 1-5

Dataset Number: 132

Current Data Version: 5.4


Research Triangle Institute


The Administration on Children, Youth, and Families and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation have undertaken the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW). NSCAW makes available, for the first time, nationally representative longitudinal data drawn from first-hand reports of children and families or other caregivers who have had contact with the child welfare system. Data from service providers are also collected. NSCAW is the first national study to provide detailed information on the experiences of children and families with the child welfare system and to collect measures of well-being for this population. The NSCAW is designed to address the following questions:

  • What paths do children follow into and through the child welfare system?
  • What factors affect investigation, services, placements, and length of involvement?
  • What are the long- and short-term outcomes for children and families in the child welfare system in terms of safety, well-being, and permanence?

The target population for the NSCAW includes all children and families that enter the child welfare system. Two samples were drawn from the population in 92 participating county child welfare agencies throughout the nation. The CPS sample includes 5,501 children, who were between the ages of 0 and 14 years at the close of the investigation. All investigations for the sample were closed between October 1, 1999 and December 31, 2000. The second sample consists of an additional 727 children, who were in out-of-home care for about 12 months at the time of sampling. This second group, referred to as the One Year in Foster Care (OYFC) Sample, was selected to allow special analysis related to the experience of out-of-home care. Waves 2, 3, and 4 take place 12, 18, and 36 months after the close of the investigation.

The NSCAW Research Group has made available a slide presentation entitled:
"National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being: Overview of NSCAW and NSCAW II, and Main Findings."

NDACAN's dedicated NSCAW User Support page contains a video and several documents to assist researchers with these data.

Bibliographic Citation

RTI International (2008). The National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being I (NSCAW I), General Release- Waves 1-5, Version 5.4 [Dataset]. National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect. Https://

Data Documentation

Publications from this Dataset